February 23, 2012
Penn Joins Suit Against Head of Sloan-Kettering
The New York Times is today reporting that the University of Pennsylvania has joined a lawsuit accusing Dr. Craig B. Thompson, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, of "walking off with the fruits of university research" to start his own company, Agios Pharmaceuticals.
According to the Times, Dr. Thompson was sued in December by his former workplace, a cancer research institute located at the University of Pennsylvania, which claimed that he had concealed his involvement with the company. The Times further reports that
Penn seemed to distance itself from the lawsuit, pointing out that the institute — the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute— was a separate legal entity from the university. And people close to Dr. Thompson pointed to the university’s noninvolvement as a sign the accusations were without merit.
That changed yesterday when Penn filed its own complaint against Dr. Thompson in Federal District Court in New York City. The Times continues:
The Penn complaint contains details not included in the initial complaint by the Abramson research institute. It says that Dr. Thompson was a co-author of one scientific paper and the lead author on another related to an enzyme called IDH1 that is a focus of Agios’s research into new ways to treat cancer.
The suit says that before the papers were published in late 2009 and early 2010, Agios filed provisional patent applications based on the research.
After the second paper was published, Penn’s technology transfer office told Dr. Thompson in an e-mail that the work could constitute “a significant patentable invention.” Dr. Thomson told the technology transfer office that there was nothing patentable in the research, even though he already knew that Agios had begun filing for patents on the same work, the lawsuit says.
We'll see how this all turns out.
February 22, 2012
A Roman Catholic Writes of Lent in a Time of a Catholic Culture War
I just came across this interesting commentary by Kevin Clarke, an associate editor at America Magazine, a weekly Jesuit publication. The commentary was posted on the Washington Post's Website this morning.
Scout Organizations Put on Notice
The Nonprofit Times yesterday reported that both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts had an "interesting Presidents Day weekend." According to the Times, a California judge has "ordered the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to turn over confidential files on volunteers as part of a molestation case brought against the organization by a victim’s family."
The Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge has ordered the Texas-based BSA to turn over 20 years’ worth of files to the court by February 24 after reviewing some of the files in January. The victims’ names will be removed from the files and the files will not be made public.
Meanwhile, the Times reports, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) were the subject of a diatribe by Indiana lawmaker Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne), who claimed the Girl Scouts promote homosexuality and “have entered into a close strategic affiliation with Planned Parenthood.”
The verbal attack came after Indiana state representatives were asked to sign a resolution honoring the centennial anniversary of the GSUSA.
Morris refused to do so, instead sending a letter dated February 18 to fellow lawmakers denouncing the organization for its policies toward gay and transgendered scouts, as well as accusing the Girl Scouts of being in league with Planned Parenthood. Morris is the only representative not to sign the resolution, and said he plans to remove his two daughters from the Girl Scouts.
February 20, 2012
Hazen Article on Director Duties
Each year in my Nonprofit Law class we have an unsettling and unsatisfying discussion about the fiduciary duties of nonprofit directors. The hard part comes when someone inevitably asks about enforcement. Who ensures that nonprofit directors satisfy their legal obligations? My stock answer is "newspaper reporters," at least in my home state of North Carolina.
Tom Hazen and Lisa Hazen recently authored an article,now posted on SSRN in draft form, that attempts to chart out fiduciary duties and the enforcement of those duties under North Carolina law. It's worth a look, partly because it is an example of a scholarly project intended to provide helpful guidance -- for lawyers and laypeople -- through a murky area of nonprofit law.
February 19, 2012
New York Attorney General Proposes Plan for Nonprofits
Last Monday, we blogged about problems that had surfaced in New York's charity care system. Today we note that the New York Times is reporting that New York's Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, has proposed a plan to overhaul the way nonprofit groups operate in that state. According to the Times, the proposal "is as much an aid package for nonprofit groups as an attempt to hold the line on runaway compensation and other abuses."
Among other things, the proposal calls for state-backed, zero-interest loans for struggling nonprofits and changes to state laws and regulations to make them more friendly to nonprofits in general. Mr. Schneiderman's plan also proposes "some steps to bolster self-policing by nonprofit groups, including the use of independent directors to monitor compensation."